If the smartphone world was a teenage Hollywood movie, the Nokia Lumia 710 would be the mousy, bookish girl with glasses who sits at the back of the class, no one speaks to and who has never kissed a boy. The 710’s bigger sister, the Lumia 800 would be the blonde-haired cheerleader, class president, home-coming queen (do they still have those?) who is going out with the quarterback. The question is, like most predictable Hollywood fare, will the quiet, less showy Lumia 710 turn out to be the all-singing, all-dancing star of the Nokia-Windows Phone show? Let’s find out.
In terms of design the Lumia 710 was always going to lose out when compared to the strikingly beautiful Lumia 800. The 800 took Nokia phones in a new direction with a smooth, seamless design coupled with a curved glass screen. Simple, clean and gorgeous.
The 710 on the other hand shows traces of the Finnish company’s history and echoes the design of Symbian phones from a couple of years ago, such as the C7. The 710 features the same size screen as the 800, but instead of the unbroken smooth lines on the former, the 710’s Gorilla Glass front is broken by rather large, and certainly ugly, physical buttons.
These buttons, (back, home and search) are compulsory on all Windows phones but most devices integrate them into the screen as capacitive buttons, or at least use more stylish physical ones. The backlit buttons here are just one large button which actually has a nice action and the three functions are distinct enough not to cause confusion, but it's still not a very elegant solution.
Another issue with the front of the screen is a slight millimetre-high bezel running around the edge of the screen. With Windows Phone 7 utilising a swiping action in almost all its menus, this bezel does nothing to help the smoothness of operation and at times is really irritating.
The screen surround and part of the side of the phone is made of glossy black plastic (a white version is also available). While we would have preferred the polycarbonate matt plastic like the 800, it doesn’t look too bad. On the rear you’ll find a replaceable plastic cover which was cyan in our review sample. The matt finish is lovely and gave the phone a premium feel you don’t get with the likes of the HTC Radar - this matt finish is much nicer than the glossy white version we first saw.
The phone normally comes with a black or white backplate to match the front, along with two extra ones in the box (cyan, magenta or yellow) and although personalising your phone in this way is not a top priority for most, it’s still a nice extra and in this case adds to the look and feel of the phone. On the back, you’ll find the five megapixel camera along with single LED flash, as well as the phone’s speaker grille.
The phone slopes from front to back meaning the all the sides are slightly angled and this throws up problems for the buttons located there. On the right edge you’ll find a volume rocker up top as well as the required (by Microsoft) physical shutter button for the camera. While these are located sensibly at the top and bottom of the right edge, because of the sloping sides, they are not the easiest to press and on a number of occasions our fingers slipped while trying to press them – especially the volume buttons.
On the top you’ll find the power/screen lock button, which is also awkward to press, along with the headphone jack and microUSB port. Unlike the 800, the battery in the 710 is replaceable by simply removing the back cover. Lifting out the battery will give you access to the SIM card slot (the 710 like the 800 uses a micro-SIM). While some people would rather have easier access to the SIM card slot, for most users this won’t be a problem.